According to the South Lake Mosquito Abatement District (SLMAD), this year the 18 traps positioned strategically in the District captured floodwater mosquitoes, which don’t spread disease. The only West Nile positives in the North Shore area in 2018 were from Glenview, Morton Grove, Niles, and Des Plaines, but nothing within the SLMAD boundaries.
Both the SLMAD and Clarke Mosquito Control, the contractor who does mosquito spraying for SLMAD, check reports of standing water and take into account hotline calls and other reports of mosquitoes in the area. When these calls and reports reach a sufficient number that it appears mosquitoes are affecting the quality of life in an area, spraying is initiated. The District also applies larvacide to storm sewers and swales to kill mosquito larvae and pupae before they mature into flying adults. According to the District, “Riverwoods has special problems because of being in the Des Plaines River floodplain.”
With the higher summer temperatures, there will be more West Nile-virus activity. THE DISTRICT RECOMMENDS WEARING MOSQUITO REPELLANT AND ELIMINATING ANY STANDING POOLS OF WATER AROUND YOUR HOME. Riverwoods residents can call the District hotline (800-942-2555) or go to the District website (slmad.org) to report mosquito problems or standing water.
Use a second District hotline (847-377-8300) for reporting a dead-bird sighting. Some infected birds, especially crows and jays, are known to get sick and die from West Nile infection. According to the CDC, the reporting and testing of dead birds is one way to check for the presence of West Nile virus.
Besides being annoying, mosquitoes can spread West Nile Virus, which can cause encephalitis or meningitis in humans and can spread heartworm parasites in pets. The Center for Disease Control notes that, “The more time you’re outdoors, the more time you could be bitten by an infected mosquito. Pay attention to avoiding mosquito bites if you spend time outside, either working or playing.”
Preventing Mosquito Bites
There are several things that help to keep those pesky mosquitoes at bay, such as:
- wear light-colored clothing, cover up your arms and legs, and wear socks, especially between dusk and dawn. Dark colors, like red, blue and black, are especially attractive to mosquitoes
- avoid using scented soaps, perfumes, hair sprays, or lotions
- use mosquito repellants. The CDC recommends DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and the plant-based oil of lemon eucalyptus. Some other repellants that studies show will work to repel mosquitoes include the natural repellants neem oil and citronella oil
- check the screens on your windows and doors to be sure they fit securely and there are no holes
Yard Party Strategies
Placing rotating fans on a deck or patio to blow away those lightweight mosquitoes works like a charm. Also, replacing standard light bulbs by doors with LEDs, yellow bug lights, or sodium lamps will make the light less attractive/visible to mosquitoes.
Alternate Solutions (?)
According to the Southlake Mosquito Abatement District, spraying with an insecticide only works for a short time, insect zappers and sound devices are minimally effective and may kill helpful insects, and citronella candles provide little help and only if you stay close to the product.
Also, there’s little evidence that attracting birds or bats to an area to eat mosquitoes actually works or that wearing electromagnetic devices, stuffing your pockets with dryer sheets, or taking Vitamin B will prevent mosquito bites.
Preventing Mosquitoes from Breeding
Mosquito larvae need stagnant water and decaying vegetation. Eliminating the breeding sites in yards will get rid of mosquitoes before they have a chance to become a nuisance. Some breeding sites include: buckets, pet dishes, drums, watering cans, discarded tires, sunken parts of your lawn, and rotted tree stumps.
Water in unused swimming pools needs to be drained. Water in a bird bath and wading pool needs to be changed regularly. It’s also important to keep roof gutters and downspouts free of clogs and to cover trash containers.
Water in boats needs to be drained or they need to be stored upside down.